Panzanella Salad

I failed rather badly at making bread. So I had a surplus of croutons. And while I could possibly quite happily live off bread pudding, conscience dictates that I have at least one vegetable in my kitchen. At some point. Enter panzanella salad.

3 heirloom tomatoes
2 bell peppers
a handful of kalamata olives
1/2 of a red onion
6 slices of bacon
2 tea spoon of dijon mustard
2 1/2 table spoon balsamic vinegar
4 table spoon olive oil
salt and pepper


1. Cut the bread into cubes. Aim for about 4 cups by volume.

2. Spread on a baking tray and toast at 350F until well dry and starting to get toasted. Allow to cool.

3. Slice the tomatoes into wedges, removing the hard stem. Put into a colander over a bowl with a pinch of salt. Allow the juices to drain for 15 minutes.

4. While the tomatoes drain, cut the bell peppers into bite sizes, finely chop the olives and slice the red onion very thinly. Combine in a large bowl.

5. Cook the bacon until crispy and set aside to cool.

6. Transfert the tomatoes to the salad bowl.

7. Add the mustard, vinegar, and oil to the collected tomato juice. Grind plenty of black pepper into the bowl.

8. Whisk to combine.

9. Add the bread cubes to the salad bowl.

10. Pour the dressing over the bowl and toss to combine.

11. Chop the bacon and stir it in.

12. Divide into plates and serve.


Chocolate Bread Pudding

I had people over for dinner and ended up with an extra baguette. I also had whole milk left from making a batch of rice pudding. So this served as a fridge/pantry cleaning decadent dessert.

1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream
235g dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon vanilla
6 eggs
1 baguette (1 or 2 day old. you don’t want fresh bread)
1 cup blueberries


1. Butter a souffle dish (this one fits about 1 1/2 quart). Cut the bread into small cubes and fill the dish (about 6 cups).

2.  In a large pot, combine the milk, cream, sugar and salt. Heat until simmering but avoid boiling.

3. In the mean time, whisk the eggs in a large heat resistant bowl. You want them slightly lighter.

4. Put the chocolate in the milk and remove from heat. Allow to stand for a minute.

5. Then whisk until smooth.

6. Gently, while whisking continually, pour the chocolate cream into the eggs.Stir in the vanilla.

7. Put the souffle dish in a large roasting tray. Pour over the bread. Allow to soak for 1 hour. If all the custard doesn’t “fit”, leave it alone for about 20 minutes. The bread will soak it up and you will be able to pour more.
This is why you don’t want fresh bread, it doesn’t soak up enough. And really, do give it at least 1 hour to soak up.

8. Add the berries. You could also mix them in with the bread at step 1. Don’t worry if any of the custard spilled during the previous step, that’s what that roasting tray is for, in part.

9. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter in small dots on top of the whole thing. It will help the exposed bread caramelize.

10. Turn the oven on to 325F. Add boiling water to the roasting pan. Put the waterbath in the oven for 45-50 minutes. The edges should be set while the middle should be still liquidy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The cooler it gets the more set the custard will be. The pieces on top and near the edges will be slightly crispy and everything else very soft and creamy.

Eating it warm however, allows you to use the custard like a decadent chocolate cause, spooning it all over your serving. I’ll leave that difficult decision to you.

Bran and banana bread

Back to my grandmother’s recipe box. It has been a while.

I had a few bananas I was going to loose and had made banana cookies last week. So banana bread it is! Delicious, dense, moist and very, very filling.

Also note : this recipe works better when using All Bran buds type of cereal. But I had bran flakes in the house, they need to get used at some point so I used them. But really, do as I say and not as I do and try this recipe with the bud types. Also the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips can be swapped with almost anything. Almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, etc.

2 cups of All Bran
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 cup flour
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tea spoon orange zest
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon baking powder.


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

2. Pour the cereals in a large mixing bowl and add the milk and orange juice. Mix and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.

4. Add the oil, brown sugar, bananas and eggs to the mushed cereals (if properly using the bud style, they will become a kind of paste with the milk and orange juice)

5. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

6. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Smooth it out so it bakes evenly.

7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and slice.